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From the author's Introduction: Let me start by saying what this book is not.It is not an attack on the men and women of the Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency, the overwhelming majority of whom are dedicated, patriotic Americans working hard everyday on behalf of their fellow citizens. God knows that they do not do it for the money nor do they do it for the recognition. They do it because they believe in the work, and because they know, as I do, that there really are monsters in the world, ...
From the author's Introduction: Let me start by saying what this book is not.It is not an attack on the men and women of the Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency, the overwhelming majority of whom are dedicated, patriotic Americans working hard everyday on behalf of their fellow citizens. God knows that they do not do it for the money nor do they do it for the recognition. They do it because they believe in the work, and because they know, as I do, that there really are monsters in the world, and someone has to protect us from them.It is also not an argument against the existence of a central human intelligence collection organization within the United States Government. We desperately needed a central intelligence agency in 1947 when the CIA was created. We even more desperately need such an entity today. The threats facing us are multiplying and becoming more complex. The time horizons in which threats are emerging are shortening. Technology is evolving at an astonishing rate, and we really are fast approaching the day when there will be dozens of groups and nations on this planet capable of threatening us with biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear weapons. This is not pulp fiction. This is reality.This book is an argument that the existing Central Intelligence Agency is no longer capable of performing the task for which it was designed and must, rapidly, be replaced.
Posted October 12, 2013
As shown in the title, the author, a CIA veteran, doesn't believe that the Agency needs fixing or "tweaking." He strongly believes that it needs to be torn down and totally rebuilt.
During World War II, in the days of the OSS, a person or group was given a mission, which usually involved being dropped behind enemy lines, and was told to make it happen. They treated intelligence work as some sort of holy calling. Today, the CIA is filled with bureaucrats and buck-passers who consider it as merely another federal job. It is thought of as a cardinal sin to make waves, even if it will save American lives. The solution to intelligence failures, like 9/11, seems to be to add layers of bureaucracy and "coordination" instead of reducing it.
The US Army's ROTC program trains and continually evaluates potential officers. If a person doesn't measure up to Army standards, they are asked to leave the program. The CIA has no such training program. A person could be a wonderful case officer, but be totally incompetent in a position of leadership. Despite the CIA's rigid bureaucracy, they still know how to put together a covert operation in days, or even hours, when an intelligence opportunity presents itself. Other agencies, like the military and FBI, need months and months of briefings, re-briefings, evaluations and approval from several different people before there can be a final approval. That is why the author strongly feels that the CIA should be the only foreign intelligence agency, and that other agencies should stop their foreign intelligence operations.
In a US embassy overseas, the ambassador is the boss. No covert operation happens without his (or her) approval. The ambassador works for the State Department, whose top rule seems to be "Don't upset the host country", even if that covert operation will save lives. Occasionally, there will be visits from Washington bureaucrats, who would not know a covert operation if they tripped over it. They usually have this wonderful intelligence idea, which sounds great in a Langley conference room, but on the ground, is an amazingly stupid idea.
Physical training for covert agents used to be very rigorous, because an agent had to be able to deal with almost anything. Over the years, standards have been reduced to almost zero. What was "very rigorous" training is now something like mildly stressful. The CIA is in strong need of people on the ground, so physical standards have been reduced to the point where people from other divisions have been let in to the program. It doesn't matter if they have asthma, diabetes or some other major ailment. If they complete the course (there are no repercussions if they don't), they suddenly think they are qualified to go overseas and work on real covert operations, right next to someone with 20 years experience.
This is a very scathing book, but it is much needed. Regardless of your opinions about recent CIA actions, America needs some sort of foreign intelligence agency. This book is an excellent place to start putting together such an agency the right way.
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Posted February 20, 2015
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